At a packed, standing room-only study session at Santa Barbara City College last Wednesday, President Jack Friedlander joked that the college should rent out seats, poking some self-inflicted fun at the current budget situation. That situation being downright dreary, the SBCC board is slashing left and right.
On Wednesday, it was the Continuing Education noncredit classes at the Ventura County Jail on the chopping block. Currently, SBCC offers GED, parenting, ESL, food service, and computer classes for inmates, but the board came to the general consensus that, Ventura being outside of its district, it was hard to justify continued funding. (Joan Livingston was the lone dissenter.) They decided to wait until the winter, however, to pull the plug so that the jail have time to find a replacement provider. The savings next year will be $80,000.
The other order of business at the meeting was deciding on how quickly to phase in the new privately-funded Center for Lifelong Learning which will house noncredit non-enhanced (often referred to as personal enrichment) classes. Friedlander handed out worksheets with two scenarios, one in which all such courses were moved to the forthcoming privately funded Center for Lifelong Learning by the end of next academic year, and another in which only 80 percent were converted. The board split, as it typically does, between the four members voted in during the last election and the three incumbents who argued for swifter conversion.
Joan Livingston called for 100 percent conversion, saying that Continuing Education has been a distraction for three years and that it’s time to “bite the bullet.” Trustee Marsha Croninger countered that if you cut too fast, you may never get classes back. She also made the case that, in the long run, strong community support will benefit the college financially — for instance with the passage of bond measures — more than saving a few hundred thousand dollars will now.
Trustee Luis Villegas said that the standoff would be rendered moot if the college can tap into a $936,000 “student body account” accumulated through excess continuing education materials and lab fees over dozens of years.